Funding your COL account

Paid using Metrobank online

Here goes my COL application update! A week after I mailed my application packet, I received a confirmation email from COL Financial which included my account number and a guide on how to fund my account.

You can pay using online banking or the usual over-the-counter bank deposit. Since I'm not in Manila, I used my Metrobank online account. I took a screenshot of the transaction receipt and emailed it to a COL representative. The day after, I received my log-in details. Be sure to change the password as soon as possible for security measures.

You may visit this page for a more detailed information.

Opening an account even if you're not in Manila is extremely easy. COL representatives are efficient and respond to emails. I can now open my portfolio and start buying shares when the Philippine market opens after the New Year. Crossing my fingers that investing will be a good way to start the year. A happy and blessed 2014!



Merry Christmas!




It's the second consecutive year that I celebrated Christmas here in Taipei, away from my loved ones. Although I really miss my family, my second family- church family- made sure that we celebrate Christmas the Filipino way. We had a very solemn Christmas Eve Mass and ended the night with a small salo-salo. It's the time of the year when our church's international community gather as one and help each other to prepare for the festivities, from foods, singing Christmas carols to putting up Christmas decors. 

I was moved to tears during Mass. I was reflecting on the past 12 months and all the joy and struggles that came my way. I kept on thanking Jesus, the little Baby in a manger, and prayed before Him that I may become like Him- the true example of humility.  I'm always amazed at the irony of Jesus Christ being born in a stable, and yet He is our King. 

Merry Christmas and let us always try our best to be Christ-like in words and deeds. Love, peace and joy to you all!

Now time to unwind after all the merrymaking, for next week will be another round of binge eating. 

Taipei Series: Simbang Gabi


Taking a break from work. I have gazillion things to finish but in the spirit of Christmas, I'd like to pause for a while and remember the reason for the season.

Tonight will be the fourth night of simbang gabi. The nights are getting colder, with rain showers for several days now here in Taipei, but my friends and I all promised to try our best to be there despite the rough weather.

It's the first time that I'm taking part in this Filipino Christmas tradition, and doing it abroad gives me an inspiration and strong will to complete the nine masses. This short feature article I wrote below about our nine morning masses appeared at The China Post last year. I'm re-posting it because what Fr. Nilo said during the interview- about Filipinos being faithful and resilient- remains true and relevant after what the country has been through this year.

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- There are no colorful lanterns lining the streets. No little children going from house to house clutching improvised musical instruments of cans and bottle caps and joyfully singing Christmas carols. Not even boxes of honey-glazed hams and bright red queso de bola. This is Christmas in Taiwan for every Filipino. Although lacking in spirit, homegrown traditions, like the Nine Mornings, play a big part in the Filipino community during this most wonderful time of the year.
 

Spanish evangelizers brought the Nine Mornings ritual to the Philippines in the early 1500s. The tradition consists of nine daily Novena Masses from Dec. 16 till 24, marking the beginning of the Christmas season for the predominantly Catholic nation. The nine days of Masses resonate with the story of Christmas — the Nativity of Jesus — and prepare people for a meaningful celebration.
 

Because these Masses are held at the break of dawn, when roosters begin to crow, they are called Misa de Gallo — a Spanish term which literally means rooster's Mass. In the old days, farmers and fishermen rose at dawn to hear Mass before starting the day's work. Today, the tradition has evolved to accommodate more people in church. Filipinos now celebrate this religious event at night; hence the practice becoming popularly known in the Filipino language as Simbang Gabi, or simply, Evening Mass.

The ritual has spread from the Philippines to every corner of the world where Filipinos are present. Fr. Nilo Mantilla, parish priest of St. Christopher's Church, the Catholic Church with the biggest Filipino community in Taipei, shares: “The Nine Mornings are a tradition from Spain, but when it reached the Philippine soil, we cultivated it, added local flavor, and exported it to other countries with the Filipino touch to cater to migrant worker communities.”

In Taipei for example, Filipinos treasure the nine days of Masses, as it provides them comfort from the pangs of nostalgia. For some who cannot make it back home to be with their families, they look forward to going to church on this special occasion. Mantilla explained that Eucharistic celebrations bring overseas Filipinos a sense of home, referring to the social dimension of the tradition. After every Mass, there's a salo-salo, a simple feast prepared for churchgoers so they can spend time together.
 

This is reminiscent of the usual practice after Mass in the Philippines, with people rushing to food stalls outside churches for seasonal delicacies like puto bumbong (purple-colored glutinous rice cakes topped with shaved coconut) and bibingka (rice cakes smothered with butter and muscovado sugar), which all go well with a mug of hot, chocolatey tsokolate.

Apart from the ritual and its festivities, there is one more reason the Nine Mornings has become more than just a tradition for Filipinos. The faithful say a reward from heaven is given to those who have completed all nine Masses, entitling them to one special wish for the coming year.

Mantilla says Mass-goers have a feeling that their wish will be granted, and that this stems from their faith. To this day, Filipinos still hold on to the centuries-old promise of a wish coming true after giving themselves to God for nine mornings, a clear indication of the depth of their faith.

“Filipinos can still smile amidst all the struggles because we are faithful and resilient. And Christmas is a time for us to be happy because of God, our Savior,” Mantilla concluded.

May this beautiful tradition of Nine Mornings fill our hearts with hope, faith and love as we celebrate the birth of Christ, even without lanterns, Christmas carols or hams. Maligayang Pasko po!

Simbang Gabi (Evening Mass) will be held at St. Christpoher's Church, in Zhongshan North Road Sec. 3, at 8 p.m. from Dec.15 to 23. Christmas Eve Mass will be celebrated at 9 p.m.

Christmas Eve Mass at Holy Family Church in Xinsheng South Road Sec. 2 will be from 10 p.m. Christmas Day Mass will be at 9:30 a.m.



Financial Fitness


I recently asked a good friend of mine what he does with the money that he earns- that's after setting aside money for daily allowance, rent (if you live far from home this amount takes quite a huge chunk from your salary), electricity, phone bill yada yada. He said he invests in the stock market. Ahhhhh i thought to myself, you are one of those people who are into those things.

He then went on and explained why he chose the stock market. He cited time deposits and dormant savings accounts. He did most of the talking, or typing rather because we were chatting online. I told him I'm guilty that I put everything into my savings accounts, and the money just stays there.

And so I've read about inflation and how the money in my account can lose its value. This friend sent me some materials to read, which I did. You see, I'm not the type who loves to take risks (well living abroad is the biggest risk I've taken so far and I want no more). So when I've learned that you can lose money with the up and down trend of the market, I figured maybe investing is not for me.

Then I had this talk with my dihia, my brother who is so into all investment-related matters. He encouraged me to just try and take a baby step towards investing. He sent me a 50-page ebook in pdf format that I stared at for a good 3 minutes. He told me he likes reading those materials compared to novels and other stuff that I read. (He said he *tried* reading Dante's Inferno on his iPad and didn't bother opening the ebook again after chapter 1.)

I spent some time to read the material he gave me which can be downloaded at this website. I took note of the things that sounded alien to me and did a quick research. After a short FB discussion with my brother and my friend, I have finally decided to sign up for COL Easy Investment Program (COL EIP), which uses the peso-cost averaging method.

I printed and filled-out an application form, but since I'm based in Taipei and will have to send the application packet via courier, I sent a scanned copy to COL and asked them to check if I missed out on anything. They replied after one or two days and gave their feedback. Now I'm ready to mail my application and start my journey to financial fitness. I'm excited to start investing but I hope this excitement wont die down.

To know if investing is for you, try reading the ebook and visit the COL website.

Photo borrowed from budgeting.thenest.com




Trip to Tokyo

Travel opportunity is among one of the many reasons why I said yes to my current job. Last week, I was in Tokyo to assist in the training program that our organization and partner Japanese institutions organized for Asian bankers.

After several months of coordination, from sending out notices, to processing invitation letters, meal planning and writing evaluation reports, we are finally done. All the preparation involved was just so tedious and at times frustrating, but after seeing how the delegates were satisfied with how our event went, I can say that all efforts from both sides paid off.

Our training program took place on December 2-3. We arrived Tokyo on December 1 and left December 4, giving me quite an ample time to visit some places and do some shopping (which our previous program and conferences did not allow me to do).

I met up with my classmate from NCCU Mandarin Learning Center, Ryota. He fetched me at the hotel and brought me to a lot of places, took me to a really good-I'm-at-a-loss-for-words sushi place near Ginza, and then some udon in Shibuya. Tokyo subway is as convenient as Taipei, although older and can use some renovation.






My mom also asked me to meet Ate Annette, who is working in Tokyo and the kababata of my cousin, Ate Juvy. I was free after our morning session on December 3, so while waiting for Ate Annette, I took my own sweet time in Ginza and located the flagship stores of Uniqlo and Muji. They were humongous. Uniqlo has 12 floors, while Muji has 3- but each floor is as spacious as a warehouse.

Japan will really make your wallets empty, until the very last minute that you're in their territory. I still managed to squeeze in a quick trip to Matsuya Ginza after checking out from the hotel, just to buy  this famous chocolate-coated biscuit. Went back to the hotel and waited for the airport bus. And more shopping at the airport. Really, you have been warned. If you dont want to go bankrupt, just bring one credit card so you wont over-swipe (hahaha). The airport is a Kitkat heaven. It carries different flavors from matcha green tea, strawberry, sakura, cheesecake, down to wasabi. I bought a few boxes just to try, but skipped the wasabi. I wish my brother went with me because I really needed someone to carry the bags, dang those boxes of Kitkats were heavy.

I would want to go back someday but hopefully for leisure, not work. It was overall a great trip and a successful program, I hope the next ones will even be greater!

Sunsets and whatevs


So I thought I'd be blogging more often now that I have created a new Wordpress account, but no. I'm such a slacker. I did write a couple of entries for one whole week, but after two, three weeks, the enthusiasm died. 

Sigh. I love how my Wordpress looks like. The layout is neat, kinda professional-ish. I'm still looking for that drive to blog again. I considered niche blogging, but thought it required a lot of effort. I wanted to do 'a day in the life' that kind of thang but figured it may be boring; or a travel blog, but I'm too lazy (I do have a separate blog of the places I've been to, but they're purely photos, no words). And so here I am, back to my old Blogspot. 

I've come across so many blogs that inspired me to blog again but at times I'm just so tired from work, that the only thing I do to rejuvenate is to attend yoga classes and do some Ohmmsss. Ahhhhh life. Maybe I'll just sleep it off and wake up tomorrow refreshed and ready to write something worthwhile. 

Anyhoooo. That photo above was taken at sundown, when I was about to leave the office. Sunsets, they really take my breath away.


Mongolia





When I told my folks I have a business trip to Mongolia, my dad's initial reaction was a big "WHAT???!!!" I traveled with my colleagues and bosses for our annual conference last September, so everything went great. Well, except being held at the immigration for ten minutes. Yes, of all places, in Mongolia. My boss breezed through the immigration but when it was my turn, I handed my passport to the lady. She flipped through several pages, pointed to the room across the hall and said "Immigration Office." I tried to keep my calm while talking to the officer. I answered all his questions with a blank face and showed our hotel bookings, event flyers, round trip ticket etc etc.

Death is sad

Someday, in a place so far away, we will all meet again.

Perhaps the saddest thing about death is the fact that you will never see the person ever again. You will never hear his voice, his laughter. You will never get to hold his hands, touch his face. 

My mom has this wonderful habit of calling her siblings on the phone from time to time, when she's in Manila or even at the province. She enjoys long phone conversations with my aunts and uncles, which revolve around just about everything. I am close to my mom's siblings because I know what's going on in their lives, in part thanks to my eavesdropping skills whenever mom's on the phone. 

There were always the good news, and of course the bad. My mom's family was deeply affected when we learned that my uncle Jun was diagnosed with cancer. He underwent an invasive surgery and became okay. Mom, my aunts and uncles visited him and phoned him each time. Then just months ago, he had difficulty eating. He lost appetite and felt something was wrong with his stomach. Another surgery said the doctors, which we all thought will make things better. 

After the procedure, the family rushed to the hospital to see him. He was okay- thinner but okay. They fed him intravenously. My mom and her siblings would alternate visiting him, seeing his health deteriorate at each visit. They thought they can bring him home 2 weeks after the surgery, but 2 weeks became 2 months. He went home, home to our Father. 

My mom asked me this morning if I can help her prepare a short eulogy for Uncle Jun. She said the priest last night told them one of the siblings will have to talk after today's mass. Then tomorrow, before cremation, my cousin Jenny will give the eulogy. 

I asked my mom to describe to me my uncle, and all the fond memories she had with him. I teared up while writing. I wondered why he had to live so short a life, I wondered why we all have to see him suffer so much in the hospital. I have so much questions but I know God has a reason for taking him. 

Uncle Jun, thank you for providing for my mom when she was young. From her stories, it seemed to me that you became her second father. I knew you were happy and proud that time mom showed you that tiny newspaper clipping of the Taiwan scholarship article. Until now I feel guilty that I was not able to visit you when I went home last October 5. I feel bad not seeing you for the very last time. 

Thanks to Facetime, I was with the family this afternoon while they were watching over you. I call it "online lamay". I heard your grandson CJ telling you to wake up. He's so cute, I'm sure his presence lessens the sadness of everyone, especially Ate Jenny. Ate Jenny took such good care of you uncle, she must have had superpowers to be able to juggle her clinic hours, being a mom, a wife and a daughter who was always by your side. 

Among the nine siblings, you were the first one to go and meet with lola and lolo. Ne-John might have given you a big hug when he saw you  up there. Please look after the other eight, and us- your nephews, nieces, your family. We are happy that there are no longer tubes and machines attached to your frail body. You see us crying, but we try to be happy because you are now in a happier place, away from all things painful. 

Death is sad. Everything about death is sad. But we all have to let go and hope that someday, in a place so far away, we will all meet again. Rest well, Uncle Jun.



Birthday and other things


When I was 11, I was excited to turn 18. I thought turning 18 was something so magical. I had a fairy-themed party, complete with bubbles spewing out of a machine, an antique swing that looked a bit lost in the middle of a garden, friends turned fairies (I think they still hate me until now :P). I remember planning my 18th birthday party down to the last detail- that was 7 long years ago.   

Now that I'm in my mid 20s, I'm trying to recall anything significant that I've made over the past. But I can't seem to remember any. And I'm worried. I know for a fact that I can't change the world, but when I try to close my eyes and think of things I've done, nothing really stood out. 

Sometimes it makes me sad. Sometimes I feel accomplished, but most of the time not. It's strange how I tend to evaluate my own life and end up hating my self, but now at least I have a motivation - a challenge to make this 25th year worthwhile. Big or small, I aim to do something that will contribute to the greater good (haha!). 

I'm grateful for all the surprises, the birthday greetings, all the love coming from everyone. The special people who made my ordinary day an extraordinary one. They who never fail to back me up and remind me I am loved and never alone. I am forever thankful for friends, for family. What is life without them anyway? I don't know why I'm surrounded with such great people, they truly are the best blessing I have ever received. This was the simplest birthday ever, yet one of the most memorable. 

On other things… I went out with my great great Korean friend Judy the other night. I was just so amazed with how she has everything planned out for her life. So much plans that I was getting overwhelmed upon hearing what she intends to do. I was on the verge of saying slow down, but then I thought it's her life not mine. On my way home, I was thinking about Judy, her plans, her determination. I hope I'll have the guts to do the same. 

One of my bestfriends' sister, who I became close with when she took a 3-month Mandarin program here in Taiwan, got married last week in Manila. After I have complained about how infidelity and mistresses are becoming too mainstream in Philippine media, I was able to witness two people who promised to be faithful, for richer or for poorer, until death do them part. I wish them forever and happily ever after.

One of my wishes for my birthday was for the healing of my uncle who took good care of my mom when she was young. I still couldn't believe how his health has deteriorated that when my mom sent me his photo when she visited him, my heart sank. I can hardly recognize him. I don't know why bad things happen to good people, I don't know why at some point in their life, they have to suffer- when all their lives they've worked so hard in building a family and helping others. I guess in a way, they become God's instruments to make us value life. To make me feel better, I think of my mom's side of the family- how they are so close and bonded, how they never left each other during difficult times. I'm just so proud of them.

Long Weekend

Four-day mid-autumn holiday ends tomorrow, and this (see below) is what I've been doing. The presence of what CNN coined as 'the strongest typhoon to hit the earth to date' made things worse. I wanted a bowl of ramen or that tasty tsukemen my friend Abby and I had last week, but the wind's just so scary, I had no choice but to stay home. Sigh. Emo mode on.







Four Years


Four years, where to next?

September 7, 2009 was the day I left home and lived on my own. No family members, not even relatives, just new friends, and a new chapter waiting to unfold.

Four years after, lo and behold, I'm still here. I don't know why (maybe job?), I don't know how (maybe, God has a reason). But I know that all the friendships, lessons and experiences I've had, have formed me into who I am now. I'm no longer the brat who wants everything to happen in just a snap. I learned to be more patient, to care more for others, to understand, to appreciate, to love, to smile genuinely, to help... and so much more. And for this I'm extremely thankful to Taiwan, my second home.

Downtime


Saturday Downtime

Nursing a migraine on a Saturday is not the greatest activity for the weekend. But what can I do if the throbbing pain would not even allow me to stand for just a few minutes? And it's raining like crazy outside!!! Luckily Mcdonald's is just few minutes away and I was able to walk before the pain got unbearable. So it was me and the tv the whole day. Watching Man VS Food was not a great idea either-- it just made me wanna go out and get a steak or a slab of baby back ribs plus mashed potatoes. So what better thing to do on a lazy rainy Saturday afternoon than snuggle under the covers? After massaging my forehead with some minty Chinese ointment, I dozed off and woke up just in time for dinner. Thank God for weekends. That was indeed a long nap, migraine's gone.

And while browsing the web, I came across this- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/20/introverts-signs-am-i-introverted_n_3721431.html -glad to know I'm not alone in my own little world.

And oh, tomorrow's the first of September! Pretty sure there'd be one person on FB who will quote that famous song for his stat tomorrow. Word. Happy September y'all!

Normalcy


My first event, Singapore training program

I cant think of anything to blog at the moment, but while walking around Xinyi yesterday, I just came to a realization that there really were a whole lot of things that I missed out on when I was working irregular hours. I have just come back from a short business trip to Singapore, but lately my weekends have been lovely days dedicated to sleeping, equally dividing alone time and spending some with friends. Not that I was not able to have that kind of life over the last 2 years, but it was really rare to have a regular weekend, more so a normal life. Although I hate that I usually have more time to ponder on all other things, I try my best not to think. I'm hoping for more weekends like these.  Thank You, God, for making sure things are well. And it's my lola's death anniversary, happy 4th year in heaven, lola :) Sana you're proud of all the little things I do.


It's the climb

Spectacular view atop Elephant Mountain

My good friend Kaymee left Manila yesterday to pursue further studies. It reminded me of the first time I left home, the many despedida dinners, all unimaginable pep talks from my aunts, to packing my stuff. I had fun instructing Kaymee what to expect, what to do, and all the emotional and spiritual preparation that go with living abroad. It made me feel like I'm an expert, but then life is always a journey of learning, failing, and picking up the pieces.

I was thinking of Kaymee while we were climbing the Elephant Mountain yesterday afternoon. With sweat streaming down my face, I held on to the thought that every place we go is like climbing up a mountain. We take breaks in between, sometimes we falter, we thirst, but we keep on going to reach the peak. Cliche as it may sound, but for me it is always the journey that matters, and not the destination.

Hello, world!

Hello, world! It's been a while... a very long while. As I enter the second half of the year, I find myself embracing a new life. They say we all have to make sound judgments and good decisions when it comes to our career, and so I took a giant leap of faith and left my comfort zone, my first love (though we have a love and hate relationship)- my newspaper job. I was moved to tears on my last day at work because I did not expect the surprise that they prepared for me. I am truly beyond blessed for having a job that I loved, that even if I could have been a millionaire now for all the OTs I rendered, no amount of money can buy the world's greatest colleagues. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!


It was another heartbreaking decision to leave the small apartment where I lived for two years. But everything turned so magical when my colleague and I saw a perfect place I can rent, which is just a few minute walk to my new office, and a lot bigger than the previous one. I moved in and felt at home in an instant.

Before I left for a short vacation, all my questions were finally answered through God's revelations. The past three months, from March to May, was undescribable, but had I not worked my ass off those months from morning till late night, I don't know if I'd still be able to go back and work. God has reasons, and I'm thankful everyday for His divine intervention.

To reward myself and as a treat for my mom, we had the usual mother-daughter bonding and visited Saigon and Siem Reap last June. I waited so long to see the Angkor Wat, and while roaming around the temples, I cant help but sigh in admiration. I want to go back again someday to watch the sunrise or sunset, which we weren't able to do because of the rains. I'm proud that my mom is already trying her best to appreciate the sights and cultures of every place that we visit, and has (finally!!!!!!!!) stopped comparing the places she's been to. I always tell her we travel to see different places and to learn about their culture, not to compare. I love it when my mom tries foods that she hasn't tasted before and when her eyes twinkle in delight when she likes what she just had. Proud daughter moment. But she still has to try spicy foods. Photos from our recent trip:




It was a rather short stay in Manila, meeting good friends, and spending time with the family. I'm now back to base, getting used to the "normal" life, with normal work schedule. I still find it weird, getting home before six with nothing to do, but I've been trying to be productive... I will still try to get published by writing on my free time and contribute stories for the paper, continue my yoga classes, and I'm thinking of enrolling for advanced Mandarin, depending on the class schedule. Or maybe, update this blog more often?



Masayang masaya


Ang tagal ko na ring di nagsulat gamit ang Filipino. Bago ko makalimutan ang ibang mga salitang mala pambalagtasan, hayaan niyo muna akong sumulat sa wika ko.

Nakakatawa talaga ang buhay. Di na natapos ang karereklamo ko. Reklamo ako nang reklamo, kasalanan ko rin naman dahil sa mga desisyong ginawa ko. Pero noong Sabado, napagtanto ko na kahit gaano pa ako kapagod, kahit gaano pa ako kadalas mag reklamo, lahat ng bagay ay magiging maayos kung magtitiwala lang ako.

Yun yata ang problema ko. Wala akong tiwala sa sarili. At minsan, hindi ko rin maiiwasan na mawalan ng tiwala sa taas. Pero hindi ko maipaliwanag ang pagmamahal Niya sa akin kasi lahat ng aspeto ng buhay ko ngayon ay naisa-ayos nang dahil sa Kanya. Sabi ko nga sa mga kaibigan ko, parang sa isang kumpas lang ng Kamay niya, napalitan ng tuwa at lumipas din ang pagod ko.

Nakahanap na ako ng bahay na malilipatan. Ang galing lang talaga dahil isang bahay lang ang pinuntahan namin ng katrabaho ko, pero parang alam ng Diyos na pagod na ako kaya ginawa niyang maayos ang lahat. Mabait ang may-ari ng bahay, sabi rin ito ng katrabaho ko dahil siya ang nakikipag-usap. Ligtas yung lugar, may elevator (sa wakas!!!), at may 24 oras na security. Higit sa lahat, ilang minutong lakad lang ito sa bagong opisina ko.

Siyempre dahil mababa nanaman ang luha ko, hindi ko napigilang umiyak sa harap ng katrabaho ko. Sabi ko sa kanya, napakswerte kong tao dahil lahat ay tinutulungan ako. Mula noong nag-aral ako dito, hanggang sa lumipat ng bahay, nagkatrabaho, at lilipat uli, hindi nauubos ang mabubuting taong tumutulong sa kin. Nakakataba talaga ng puso. Para sa mga katrabaho ko, maraming maraming salamat. Noong isang araw lang nakabukas ang magkakasunod na computer sa opisina ng mga layout artists namin, tinutulungan akong maghanap ng bahay kahit oras ng trabaho. Napakswerte ko sa kanila. Sana balang araw masuklian ko rin ang kabutihan nila sa akin.

Sa ngayon nagpapalakas lang ako ng loob para sa paglipat ko ng bahay, ng trabaho. Hindi naman ako mawawala ng tuluyan sa pahayagan dahil susulat pa rin ako. Pero siyempre maninibago ako dahil ibang responsibilidad naman ang nasa balikat ko. Sa bagong bahay naman, nandiyan pa rin yung takot ko kasi bagong lugar, at mamimiss ko yung naging buhay ko sa isang apartment na napalapit sa akin ng husto. Ilang gabi rin ang nai-iyak ko sa kwartong iyon, yung mga hikbi ko kapag naaalala ko ang pamilya, at kapag kausap ko ang Bossing sa taas. Di ko malilimutan yung isang araw na naaksidente ako, kung gaano ako humagulgol dahil akala ko di na ako magigising kinaumagahan. Dito tumatag yung loob ko, mag-isa sa gabi, sa lindol, sa bagyo, sa tawa, sa  luha.

Ang sarap ng pakiramdam ko ngayon. Masaya kahit pagod. Konting tiis na lang. Makakapag bakasyon na rin ako, kahit nasa kalagitnaan ng gitgitang Taiwan-Pilipinas. Maraming salamat kasi masaya ako, masayang masaya. 

Some Updates




I'm so tired no words can even describe it but I just want to let it all out so here we go, bullet-point style:

- I feel like my body is being torn into pieces. I'm slowly turning into a masochist by enjoying the pain and exhaustion that goes with what I'm doing now, but all's well that ends well. 

- My inability to decide well has been the concern of most people who are so close to me. After a whole lot of talking, sharing, crying, listening, I can finally take a deep breath now and say "I know what to do."

- My brothers and I finally spent some quality time together. It's so rare that we get to see each other and do things together (read: eat) with all the different professions that we have. But distance really makes the heart grow fonder, and there is no better way to bond than lying in bed with two big guys and the littlest one being squished. 

- My dearest and most favorite aunt, Auntie Emi visited with my cousin Jay last month. Although their visit was mainly for my aunt's mom- Lola Mary- who suffered from a massive stroke, we still made sure Jay got to try every possible Filipino food. We're all hoping Lola Mary's condition will improve, it is too sad to see her in bed, because she used to have a lot of stories for everyone. It was too short of a vacation for us, but as what I have always told my cousin, it's better than nothing. 

- Achie Bon, one of my first friends and achie here in Taiwan is finally tying the knot!  JP and Achie Bon are very lucky to have each other and I can't wait to see them grow in the love of God and build a life together. We had a mini bridal shower (pictures above) for her and the single ladies did learn many things from the married achies. 

- I have a new 'inaanak' or goddaughter! I'm excited to witness her grow up and enjoy God's presence in her life. I kept saying I wouldn't be a good example, but I'll try my best. I wrote a letter and asked her parents to keep it until she learns how to read. I can't wait for that moment when she'll read it aloud in front of me. 

- I cannot wait for June!!!

- My list of things to do is already piling up and I haven't crossed out a single item. Lord, help!!!

- I value every bit of time that I have to rest and sleep. I think I owe every single friend an explanation on what I have been up to, but I think the less people know, the better. That is all.



Voices

Cherry Blossom Boulevard, Beitou

"His was the fight, ours the crown."
Christ is risen, Alleluiah! Spring has sprung! And the cold almost gone (except the annoying rain the entire week). So many reasons to be happy about but I am not quite sure how I have been feeling these days.

Slice open my head and maybe you'll find a gazillion of thoughts floating around. I'm stuck with so much stuff I'm afraid I'm -in the words of my colleague- already living outside my life. I think he got it right.

Thankfully, the observance of Holy Week has put a halt on all these busyness. I was too absorbed with other things, forgetting Someone manages them for me. And maybe this is the reason why I was deeply moved by the services I attended the past days. On Good Friday, despite having to go to work, I dropped by the church near the office and they were having a short musical recollection before the veneration of the cross. I suddenly felt enveloped by His love, His greatness. I teared up and felt alive again. The homilies by the nuncio from Palm Sunday to Easter also fueled my hunger, my thirst, listening to him wiped away my exhaustion.

People might think I'm crazy with all the things I'm doing. I miss myself, my alone time. I miss not having to eat fast, to sleep fast. I miss not having to think of what I will do next. I miss my daily masses.

To be able to go back to my normal life, I need to make a decision- fast, quick. But it is hard. People close to me know the things I value, and they also are torn on what advice to give to me.

But I was told last Sunday that i need to listen to voices other than the one in my head, especially those who know me well. Discern. Pray. Know what will make you grow. I'm grateful I have these voices in my life. And that voice of Someone greater than us.

Pampering the sick


I was sick the entire week. My lips are cracked dry, perhaps from the lack of nutrients and my intake of various medications. Really, the cough syrup that almost became a part of my daily meal looked and tasted like Listerine. I was downing an antibiotic and some fever meds every four to five hours. It was one of the worst flu experiences I've ever had.

It didn't even help that I was craving so bad for chicken macaroni soup (I was telling myself even a plain sopas will do), and some sinigang to warm me up. But nothing. I subsisted on Subway's minestrone and Formosa Chang's fishball soup. I stayed in bed the whole weekend, sleeping the day away. I kept my blinds closed all the time because my eyes were so sensitive to light. My doctor kept checking on me, sometimes I fall asleep between replies.

Monday came and I had no choice but to go back to work. I was like a zombie working on my desk. My colleagues were nice enough to get me some seafood hotpot to-go because I wanted something hot to fill my tummy.

I'm slowly recovering. I have the entire weekend to myself but I think I'll be in bed. Again. Or maybe sipping some 'homemade Starbucks' classic hot chocolate while recuperating. And I received three little cuties in the mail the other day- adorable line characters. I just smile when I see them. They're so cute I wish they come in huggable sizes.

Anyhow, time for bed. I just made use of my free time to do some backlog blog readings. I swear I need to take my multivit and not let them expire anymore. It sucks to get sick, especially alone, but it feels nice to have people around, despite being a virus carrier, they still pampered me.

When?





Sometimes I ask myself until when will I be doing this. Flying back home, then going back to work.

I have quite gotten used to it. I can already hold back my tears unlike before, when tears will just stream down my face after going through the immigration. In fact I have a usual routine. Turn on my international roaming an hour before, then text the parents when boarding is announced. Send in another message when already seated, and another when the plane touches down. Lastly, call when home and about to unpack. 

Yet no matter what I say, there's still this part of me that wishes for the impossible- somehow hoping my family's just at the other door, or at the floor below, where I can smell mom's garlic rice in the kitchen. But then I constantly have to keep in mind that I'm doing this for no one but myself and "the" future- when my still unknown dreams have become a reality. Till then I will allow myself to miss my family, our home, our life, and keep on taking a picture of this scene at the airport, and doing my usual routine. 

In the Midst of the Raging Sea


The waves are calm, waters cool, black sand soft and powdery between my toes. Gentle breeze blows up my skirt, taking me back to those carefree childhood days. Now the wait is over, the cold long gone, my heart is glad.


Home

I apologize this is my Day 4 of "free to be lazy" vacation. Feet up, fridge filled with junk food goodness, and eating more than three times a day. Shall we just let the pictures do the talking then? Now back to being lazy. 

Welcome back cake.

All the desserts with the lil boy I missed.

Filipino food heaven.

Cool and cozy.